The Orioles’ constant run of injury issues today sent Rule 5 pick right-hander Tyler Wells to the 10-day injured list. He is dealing with right shoulder inflammation and right-hander Spenser Watkins rejoins the team to take his roster spot.
Wells’ season ends, but what a rookie year it was.
He went 2-3 with a 4.11 ERA and four saves, the last of which came in the series opener against the Rangers on Thursday night. But last night, trying to record another save, Wells faced one batter in the ninth, allowed a triple and walked off the field with athletic trainer Mark Shires.
That will wrap up a season when he allowed 40 hits in 57 innings with 12 walks and 65 strikeouts. He posted a 0.912 WHIP with a 1.9 walk rate and 10.3 strikeout rate. His WHIP is third-lowest among rookie relievers.
“We’re doing further tests, but right now we just feel like it’s fatigue and some shoulder discomfort,” manager Brandon Hyde told reporters at Oriole Park. “So, feeling positive about that it’s not serious and he should be fine. Just a long year for him. Coming back off a couple years of not playing and 162 games this year. Just has some shoulder fatigue.”
Hyde said there were no signs recently that Wells was dealing with any issues.
“No. Threw 12 pitches the night before, was throwing 97, 98 (mph) and we felt like, actually, his slider was better that night than it had been in Philadelphia. No, he felt good. Felt good. He wanted to be up last night. Just one of those things. Felt good in the bullpen, felt good all the way through his warmups. It was the first pitch of the inning.”
Wells showed the ability this year to get out both left- and right-handed batters, allowing a .468 OPS versus lefties and .675 to righty hitters. As the year went on, Hyde made the call to give him the ball in the ninth.
“Tyler was a guy that, middle part of the year, was pitching big innings for us, fifth through seventh inning,” Hyde said. “Doing a great job. I just liked the way he commanded the ball and threw strikes and attacked guys, and didn’t want to push him too hard because of his situation. You know, as we got later in the year, tried a couple of other guys out and we were struggling in that role. I said, ‘You know what, let’s see what we’ve got with Tyler.’ Did a really good job with it.
“I think (you like just about) everything about him. As we kind of started watching him more, you saw that he had confidence. He wasn’t afraid of the big leagues. He was throwing a ton of strikes and I thought you saw his stuff improve over the course of the year. He wasn’t throwing 97 in spring training or in the beginning part of this year. So he got stronger as the year went on. And confidence continued to build when he recognized that his stuff played here.
“So great improvement over the course of the year. Great development story for us. Excited about him going forward.”
In the minor leagues when he was in the Minnesota Twins farm system, Wells was a starter almost exclusively, making just four relief appearances over his 50 outings. Could he be used as a starter by the 2022 Orioles?
“I think going forward, we’re still having conversations about it. We’ll talk this winter about what the right thing to do for him, Hyde said. “Whatever is best for him is what we’re going to do. Whether it’s going to be the rotation or the bullpen.”
Later today the Orioles will try to bounce back from last night’s loss. After blanking Texas 3-0 Thursday night, the Orioles blew a two-run lead in the ninth and lost 8-5 to Texas Friday night at Oriole Park.
“We didn’t catch many breaks last night,” Hyde said. “And credit them. They robbed us of two homers. They made a sliding catch on (Trey) Mancini in the gap that was a bullet. That was probably a run or at least second and third there. They had some swinging base-hit singles that hurt. That is part of the game and that happens. But luck didn’t seem to go our way last night.”
Right-hander Chris Ellis (1-0, 2.39 ERA) faces right-hander Jordan Lyles (9-12, 5.36 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. in the third game of this series.